Last modified: 2001-11-16 by manuel giorgini
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by António Martins
Flag adopted 1990-05-12, coat of arms adopted 1990-11-03
This region, historically known as Bessarabia, has changed hands many times. After being Turkish for many years it became Russian in 1810. In 1917 it proclaimed independence before joining Romania in 1918. In 1940, under the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, it once more became Soviet. The territory was joined to the pre-existing Moldavian ASSR, a Soviet fiction carved out of Ukraine which in fact had very few Moldavians living there (this is the origin of the dispute between the modern Republic of Moldova and the self-styled Dniestr Republic, the largely Slavic-populated eastern region) and became the Moldavian SSR on 2 August 1940. From 1941 until 1944 Romania, allied to the Axis powers, once again ruled Bessarabia.
Post war, the Soviets created a largely artificial Moldavian language (largely accomplished by transcribing Romanian from the Latin alphabet into Cyrillic) and sought to encourage the creation of a separate Moldavian nation. This fiction could not disguise the fact that the Moldavians are essentially Romanian, and although Moldova's initially expressed aspiration of union with Romania is now much more muted, the Moldovan flag is basically that of Romania with the addition of the national coat of arms on the yellow stripe.
Stuart Notholt, 5 October 1995
Hello, I'm Moldovan and I want to correct some of your page's information about my country. First, Moldovan language is not a "artificial language", it's only a dialect of Romanian and differences between them are as great as between Austrian and German or American English and British English. But Moldovans are not Romanian. These are two different nations, like Austrians and Germans or Americans and Englishmen.
Romania/Moldova adopted a flag in the three colours during the revolutions of 1848 which drew inspiration (and vexillology) from the French revolution.
Stuart Notholt, 10 October 1995
I believe the colours are a combination of those of Moldavia (the Romanian bit, not Bessarabia-now-called-Moldova) and Wallachia, though I couldn't tell you which is which.
Roy Stilling, 10 October 1995
The old medieval principality of Moldavia had a red military flag with a bison's (not ox's, as you think) head in the center. The bison is a symbol of Moldova and as old chronicles said means "power, independence and pride". This head you can see on our coat of arms. The three colors of Romanian and Moldavian flags were proposed in 1848 and represented three part of Romania:
I have been lead to believe that the bull like emblem is actually that of an Aurochs, a mamouth beast of pre-historic descent that survived in the remoter regions of eastern Europe untill the eightenth century, before it was hunted to extinction.
The story attributes the use of the aurochs head to the fact that the founding price of Moldavia (who I think was a noble possibly of Hungarian descent) encountered one of these beasts on his travels from the Mountains of northern Romania (either the Marmourous region or the bucovina) and that the animal attacked, killing the nobles wife who was thrown into the river Moldova, which subsequently became the Romanian name for the territory east of the Carpathian mountains.
I am not sure if this legend is true, but the same scene is displayed in statue form in Sucevita in northern Romania.
Rob Courtney, 26 October 1999
I am a Bassarabian or Moldovan as we are known these days and I
would like to correct some of the information that my fellow
Bassarabian, Vladislav Zaraisky has given you. First of all our flag
represents the fact that we, Moldovans are the same as the Romanians.The
tricolour and the eagle shows the same latin routes and the same
ancestors. Bassarabia used to be part of the Principality of Moldova and
at one point it even used to be part of the Kingdom of Romania. The
flag shows that we hope one day that we could be one with our true homeland, Romania.
George Stoica, 19 March 1999
That is basically correct, though the popular support for reunification has
fallen quite much.
ole andersen, 19 March 1999
Just to give a brief history. Bessarabia hasa long been a part of Principality of Moldova located between Carpathian mountains and Dniestrer. After the Ottoman invasion, Moldova lost its independemce and became a sort of self-ruled province and its rulers (Gospodars) were appointed by Ottomans. Bessarabia became part of Russia according to the terms of peace treaty signed by Russia and Turkey in 1812. Authonomy was granted to Valakhia and the rest of Moldaova according to the Adrianopol Russian-Turkish treaty signed in 1829. In 1859 Valakhia and Moldova united as Principality of Romania which got formal independence 1n 1878 after another Russian-Turkish war when Romanians were Russian allies.
Bessarabia went back to Romania in 1918, whan Romania signed separate treaty with Austro-Germans (in fact, there was no other choice for Romania). Soviet Russia and later USSR did not recognise this transition. In 1924 Moldovian autonomy within Ukrainian SSR was proclaimed (now Transdniester). Probably Soviet authority wished to use it as a core for future "Soviet Romania". In 1940, USSR forced Romania to withdraw from Bessarabia which became Moldavian SSR. But some territories where Romanians (or Moldavians, actually it is a matter of self-determination of people of Moldova) had been minority were passed to Ukraine (South Bessaqrabia and Khotin). Simultaneously most part of Moldavian authonomy was transmitted to Moldavian SSR.
In 1941, after the Nazi invasion, Romania took back Bessarabia, annexed Trandniestr and all Ukrainian territories between Dniester and Bug (including Odessa). After the war, borders of 1940 were restored.
The current flag of Moldova was established in 1990 and Symbolised both Romanian
origin and wish to reunificxation (at the time most of non-communist Moldovan
politicians wanted to reunite). But it is turned out that most part of Moldovan
population do not support they aspirations. Now Moldova is fully independent state
and has no intentions to become part of Romania.
Alexei Arkhipov, 20 March 1999
The colours and design of Moldovan flag is indeed intended to show proximity and kin to Romania, and it can not be denyed. It may be that a hope for a unification is also suggested in it, but as far as I know that is not the imidiate intention nor a political option whidely supported in Moldova (but surely it exists).
Anyway, it is not unusual and unheard, quite contrary, that the flags have symbolism of some idealistic hopes (or even assumption of some neighbouring parts), without the explicit imidiate political request (or treath). The case that first come to mind is central-americal "wish" for unification clearly expressed in their flags (and COAs), but without any imidiate political meaning and support. The "pan" colours (panslavene, panarab, panafircan...) could also be read that way, without making much of political meaning in this moment of history.
If I am not wrong, Moldovan-Romanian unification might easily be set
into such "ideal" category.
Zeljko Heimer, 21 March 1999
M.Lupant, in his travel notes published in Vexillacta #10 (December 2000), reports two Moldavian flags he saw in the National History Museum of Chisinau.
The former is a Romanian flag charged with a black aurochs head, which was used during the nationalist demonstrations of 1989/1990.
The latter is the Moldavian national flag which bears the signatures of the personalities who took part to the proclamation of the Republic (27 August 1991). Note that the flag is a 2:3 Romanian flag on which a yellow rectangle bearing the Moldavian arms was applied. The yellow rectangle of the arms is significantly darker than the yellow stripe of the flag.
Ivan Sache, 2001-07-27
[Editor's Note: This page has been carrying the following ratio 1:2 flag at the time of these messages]
The Moldovan flag is the same as Romanian, the only difference is that the moldovan flag has a coat of arms.
Diana Vrabie, 2001-08-07
What do we really know about the proportions? What are our sources for the proportion of the flag?
I checked three books, where I found the Moldova flag
[hes92] explicitly states 1:2 and the image is 1:2
[vis94] shows an image in 1:2
[zna99] explicitly states 2:3 and the image is 2:3
So we might have the following explanations:
1. One or two of the above books are wrong.
2. The flag was originally (de jure or only de facto) 1:2, but changed to 2:3 later on.
3. Both versions are in use, perhaps signifying different political attitudes: As 2:3 is the proportion of the Romanian flag, a 2:3 Moldovan flag might (might!) signify some pro-unification opinion. Whereas 1:2 as the proportion of the flags of the former Soviet Union might show some affinity to either Moldovan independence or Soviet nostalgy.
To come to a conclusion, we would need:
1. Good evidence of the actual use of the flag, i.e. photos
2. The legal texts prescribing the flag.
Marcus Schmöger, 2001-08-21
About the ratio. It is clear that the current proportions are 2:3, even our page says so, but perhaps our current image was once correct. Wasn't the moldavian flag (as other ex-soviet flags) 1:2 in 1992, to be later changed to 2:3?
António Martins, 2001-08-17
by António Martins
From what I have read (an Encyclopedia Americana flag article written by Whitney Smith) the coat of arms is an eagle holding a cross in its beak and an olive branch and scepter in its claws. On top of the eagle is a shield "perfess" (split in half horizontally) red on top and blue below, with a stylized ox head over all between a rose and a cresent. The eagle is from the old Romanian coat of arms and ultimately from Byzantium; the ox head represents the old province of Bessarabia; the cross is obviously Christian; the scepter and olive branch are probably for sovereignty and peace; as for the flower and cresent, I have no idea.
Near the bison's head are situated, not a rose and a cresent, but the sun and a cresent.
Why such strange design? Because, as I know, this is an astral symbol of the sun and
the moon taken from Dacian coins (Daci were ancestors of the Moldovans and Romanians in
ancient times). Also, the octagonal star above the bison's head is the Dacian symbol of
wisdom. The three parts of the eagle's tail represent three part of the Republic of
Moldova: Gagauzia (or Gagauz Eri as it calls itself) in the south, the central
region as the biggest part, and the breakaway Dniestr region (Transnistria in
Romanian or Pridnestrov'e in Russian). And if you compare our coat of arms and
the Romanian coat of arms you can see that the Romanian eagle has a
sword but our eagle has an olive branch (it's also a difference between the two nations).
by Jorge Hurtado
A similar flag is shown in Album 2000, captioned Customs Ensign. Differences are that it is swallow tailed 1:2,
indentation 90 degrees, a lighter blue field (approxim. Pantone 299c), with 14 visible embettlements and 14 gaps, and the
indentations ocuches the white stripe just where the 15th brick would come.
Might it be that the swallow tailed version is to be used at sea, while the rectangular for hoisting on land?
Zeljko Heimer, 2001-01-24
Rectangular flag is for hoisting in ports and customs check points, and dependencies of the customs service.
Swallow tailed 1:2 flag is for ships of the customs agencies.
Jaume Ollé, 2001-01-24
This story was reported in the Romanian newspaper "Romania Libera" (3 October 2000, article by Camelia Varvara).
During the plenary session of the Parliament of Moldavia held on 29 September 2000, there was a harsh debate on the use of the Romanian language in the medias. The deputy Sergiu Burca evoked the communist medias of the 1988-1991 period, which called the Moldavian tricolor flag "fastchiskii flag" (fascist flag). The deputy Vladimir Voronin, president of the Moldavian Communist Party, immediatly shouted "And they were right!".
Voronin is a former Minister of Interior of the 80's, when demonstrations for resurrection of the national spirit, promotion of the Romanian language and tricolor flag were repressed.
Several deputees have sued the communist leader for "serious insults against the national flag of Moldavia". Voronin answered he had not intended to insult the Moldavian flag, but another blue-yellow-red tricolor (evidently the Romanian flag).
Article 203/2 of the Penal Code of Moldavia says that desecration of national symbols of the Moldavian state or other states by people having official positions shall be punished by destitution, 3 to 7 years in jail or a fine equivalent to 80 average salaries.
The Romanian Foreign Office has moderatly reacted to Voronin's words and asked the Moldavian authorities to take appropriate action against Voronin, although his insults shall not endanger the relationships between both countries.
by Lilian Rudenco
by István Molnár
The flag is made of 5 red and 4 black stripes, meaning the 9 villages which have based the city of Ungheni.
The white "chevron" on COA (and white triangle on flag, I think) stands for the river Prut, which makes a 90 degrees turn there.